Mourners sang and cheered as her body was brought into the Orlando stadium where the funeral service was taking place. Because she was always so strong.
She expressed her "profound dismay about my mother's public story of the past 25 years".
Former Presidents Jacob Zuma, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe as well Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Namibian President Hage Geingob were among the dignitaries who attended the funeral to pay their final respects.
For many South Africans, the most memorable-image of Madikizela-Mandela is her punching the air in a clenched-fist-salute as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, on February 11, 1990.
"Like her, you show that we can be lovely, powerful and revolutionary, even as we challenge the lies that have been peddled for so long", she said, referring to her mother being sidelined by the ANC and much of society for her radicalism.
As a 22-year-old social worker, she married Nelson Mandela in 1958, and stood by him in the years following his 1964 conviction and life imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Before her death, Winnie held several government jobs. She told how she met Madikizela-Mandela 60 years ago at the Baragwanath Hospital, where they both worked.
"As each of them disavowed these lies, I had to ask myself - why have they sat on the truth had wait until my mother's death to tell it?"
"She was very generous. She represents a fighting spirit because, even though she lived through the apartheid era, she never gave up", said 20-year old college student Gift Mokale.
An occasion for political expression, many in the crowd wore the ANC's green, gold and black but also the red of Malema's breakaway party, Economic Freedom Fighters. This reached a crescendo as the procession, led by police motorcycles, arrived.
"You wanted us to come back to the ANC - to which ANC?"
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"We see you in your suits, sell-outs".
President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ delivering the eulogy for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her official funeral in Soweto on Saturday‚ focused on how she had united the country in her life and after her death.
"I'm sorry, Mama, that your organisation delayed in according you its honour, to this point in time and moment". He said her wounds were not completely healed.
LISTEN: Naomi Campbell's tribute to Mama Winnie.
He said the wall is about a remarkable woman, strong women and the mother of the nation.
"Long before it was fashionable to call for Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island, it was my mother who kept his memory alive", Zenani Mandela-Dlamini said as the audience packing a 40,000-seat stadium erupted in cheers.
"Mama, the widows of Marikana are still in tears".
Her voice broke down with sadness as she continued: 'May you rest in the greatness of the kingdom of God, next to the most extraordinary people. "It was a life of compassion", said the president.
Madikizela-Mandela's own daughters paid tribute to their mother, with ambassador HRH Zenani Dlamini defending the legacy of a "woman who dared one of the most evil and powerful regimes of the past century and triumphed".
"In apartheid South Africa, the combination of patriarchy and racism together meant that black women confronted enormous obstacles from the cradle to the grave - making her own achievements all the more exceptional", he said on Friday at a memorial in NY, not mentioning Nelson Mandela at all.